From Heartbleed to WordPress and Drupal instabilities to hackers stealing the world’s passwords, it’s impossible to avoid news related to Internet safety and security these days.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to avoid actually enacting online safety and security measures – as easy as not doing anything. Not backing up your websites, not choosing secure passwords, not updating your website, not reviewing your plugins, not upgrading to the latest version of your ecommerce software.

But while it’s easy to avoid implementing online safety, it’s difficult – sometimes impossible – to recover from a security breach. A crashed website, hacked password or, even worse, a hacked ecommerce platform, complete with your customers’ personal details, can spell total disaster for your company.

Here’s where a business-grade virtual assistant can help you manage your online security and keep your websites, passwords, and client information safe.

First Things First: Safe Sharing With Your VA

If your virtual assistant manages your email and calendar, handles your customer service, administers your website, pays for things online on your behalf, or does any other type of task that involves access to your cloud based software and systems, you need to make sure you are sharing access information securely. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Keep your passwords safe. You may have heard that it’s a good idea to store your passwords in a Google Doc or Dropbox folder, but your passwords deserve more security than that. Use a service like 1Password, Dashlane and, Lastpass to keep your passwords as safe from hacking as possible. The great thing about these systems is that you don’t have to remember your passwords – just the master password for accessing the secure encrypted system.  This means you can use lots of different passwords and make them long, obscure and complex.
  2. Create unique passwords. You should use a different password for every site and service you use. One of our favorite password-creation methods is the mnemonic device: for example, to log in to Facebook, you might set your password to Fbie2bsn (Facebook is essential to/2 business social networking). If you want to go even further use a random password generator.
  3. Email isn’t safe. Email, even authenticated email, is not a safe method for sending credit card numbers, passwords, social security numbers, or other sensitive information.
  4. Enable double authentication. If you use services like Dropbox, Facebook, or Google Docs, turn on two-factor authentication.

 

How Your VA Can Help Strengthen Your Online Security

Now that we have basic safety out of the way, let’s talk about how a business-grade virtual assistant can help you improve, strengthen, maintain and manage your online security.

Of course, your Internet security needs are as unique as your business. The first things to discuss with your VA are the various aspects of your business: security measures you currently take, methods you’ve thought about enacting (but haven’t found the time), and if-only-it-were-possible steps you’d love to enable. (Hint: Your VA can research it.)

Once your virtual assistant has the basics, she can start implementing. For example:

  1. Create better passwords. If you haven’t already implemented secure passwords, like those mnemonics we mentioned above, your VA can easily migrate all your old passwords to better, stronger choices. She’ll store those passwords via a secure password service, so you’ll have one-click access.
  2. Improve website security. One of the first steps to a secure business is a secure website. The details depend on the programming language or CMS (e.g. WordPress) you use to administer your site. For example, your VA can harden your WordPress security.
  3. Implement SSL.  Google recently confirmed that it will give greater priority in the search rankings to sites that use secure https as default. Your VA can help arrange the purchase and installation of an SSL certificate, and all the measures that need to be put in place to achieve secure access to your site.
  4. Run latest updates. Even after you’ve enacted basic measures to secure your website or ecommerce site, you need to be hyper-vigilant about making updates. Updates often patch holes in code and boost security measures to protect you against the latest and most dastardly hacker plans. And these updates don’t stop with core code: for example, before you update your WordPress website, you need to make backups. Once you’ve sufficiently backed up your database, your content, and your theme (template), then you can update WordPress. And once you’ve updated WordPress, it’s time to update (and test!) all of your plugins. And yes, the right business-grade VA can do all that.
  5. Run regular backups. Backups are essential to keeping your website safe, even in the event of a security breach. Ask your VA to automate any possible backups, and to schedule into her weekly or monthly tasks a check that they have run properly, as well as any backups that must be run manually.
  6. Research more secure options. One of the greatest things you can do for your business and your customers is keep abreast of the latest developments in online security. Ask your VA to keep her ear to the ground and her research skills honed for new ways to improve your security – advances like mobile payments or more secure virtual shopping carts.